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customer experience
Janine Dyer
  • By Janine Dyer
  • Dec 02 2015

Black Friday - don’t treat me like a lemming

A customer's perspective

Black Friday came and went, the predicted onslaught of emails came rushing in - and it was the day when some of my best-loved brands failed me.

Brand loyalty is a rarity in an age so full of choice and quick fixes. The brands that have earned my repeat business are the ones that I feel will always do the best for me. To them, I’m not just a number through the door, but someone whose birthday is worth remembering. But instead of a personalised offer, some of my favourite brands opted to take the typical and impersonal Black Friday approach. Instead of dialling up the difference that made me love them in the first place, they became just another shout in a room full of noise.

It’s not surprising then, that according to a report published by business consultancy LCP, ‘One-third of retailers believe Black Friday is unprofitable and unsustainable’. This comes after payment firm Worldpay revealed that around 70 per cent of consumers do not return to the brand from where they picked up their Black Friday bargains for the remainder of the festive period.

One of the brands that approached the day with more imagination than the typical shop that draped itself in begging letters disguised as sales tags, was Fat Face. In its windows, instead of screaming ‘SALE’, it placed a poster that read “We’re not discounting. We’re donating £250,000 of our profit to your local charities.” And while I applaud its attempt at differentiating itself to create a temporary ‘feel good’ factor tied to that day, when it comes to a brand communicating its charitable efforts, I’d argue long-term approaches feel more authentic.

If this year’s pattern of shoppers opting to stay away from shops on Black Friday teaches brands anything, it’s that we’re moving away from the loudest people in the room.

But this should also serve as a warning to the digital sellers too. Filling people’s inboxes with offers and discounts won’t work for much longer. As brands fight each other for a share of wallet, we will eventually become immune to the megaphone. Or as Stephen Springham, Head of Retail Research for property firm Knight Frank, says: “The irony is that the real winners from Black Friday are probably those that opt not to take part at all”.

If brands want to maintain my loyalty, my three tips would be this:

  • Don’t shout - whisper in my ear, show that you value me, use my name and personalise your offer
  • Don’t hard sell - if you want me to buy something, give me a good reason to do so. I’m looking to enjoy my purchasing experience; don’t treat me as a walking wallet.
  • Don’t copy - stop doing what everybody else is doing. Rediscover your reason for being and remind me of all the reasons why I love your brand

– and opt out of Black Friday. Listen to Ayo Akintola, Managing Director of Oddbins, on why his brand refuses to participate :

“We will not offer artificial discounts, attempt to get rid of wonky stock, cannibalise our own sales or pressure our customers to jump, like lemmings with credit cards, into the collective madness of Black Friday. Our customers recognise the fact that attention-grabbing yoyo price changes is a mechanism for dissatisfaction

Oddbins, I salute you!